Cape Town - Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said her department is working around the clock to recover the tourism sector, as calls to reopen the country’s borders grow louder.
Kubayi-Ngubane was briefing Parliament’s select committee on trade and industry.
“The contribution of the tourism sector cannot be ignored. We are working long and hard as a department and we are dealing with the final leg to reopen the sector safely,” she said.
The minister added that she was aware of the frustration in the sector.
“We are well aware how crucial international tourists are for the country. We have submitted our plan to the National Economic Development and Labour Council,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.
On Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa was involved in high-level talks about a further easing of lockdown restrictions to level 1 this week.
Social partners - government, business, labour and community - have been meeting over the last few weeks to develop a common approach to rebuilding the pandemic-hit economy.
During the committee meeting, the department told MPs of a survey that was conducted with the Tourism Business Council of SA.
A first survey in April, which covered the month of March, had 1610 respondents. The second in July 2020 covered June and had 1501 respondents.
April's results indicated that 83% of firms reported revenues in March were down more than 50% compared with March last year, and 34% of firms said revenues were 100% less.
Survey results in June showed 64% of enterprises were unable to service their debts and 67% of enterprises were unable to cover fixed costs in May.
Tourism Department director-general Nkhumeleni Victor Tharage said: “Initial reprioritisation aimed at the establishment of the R200million relief fund for small, medium and micro enterprises and a further R30m to support the tourist guides.
"Further government-wide reprioritisation aimed at supporting the efforts to fight the pandemic led to a budget cut of R1 billion from the portfolio,” the director-general said.